Proverbs is always such a weird book to try and apply to your life. The theme of the book is what? Wisdom. Is it teaching wisdom to give people a bunch of cookie cutter situations and tell them how to act? No.
In Proverbs 26:4-5, we see two Proverbs back-to-back that say opposite things. One says “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself”. The very next verse says “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes”.
Long story short, all of the book of Proverbs flows from Chapter 1, which talks about the fear of the lord being the beginning of wisdom. Those two contradictory proverbs show us that the book is not meant to be a cut-and-paste sort of thing. It’s not the case that a fool could simply read it, start acting like the “wise man” found throughout Proverbs and suddenly be wise (how would he apply those two verses above?).
Wisdom comes not from doing the things the wise man does, but by being the kind of wise man who fears the Lord and can discern what response to use in a given situation at the right time.
In a similar way, we need to remember that the point of the Bible is not to teach or instruct; it’s to reveal God. Out first question when approaching Scripture should not be “how do I apply this to my life?” It should be “Who is the God revealed by these words?
Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.
— Proverbs 10:12
A friend recently asked for my thoughts on this verse. What does everything I’ve said so far have to do with this verse? A lot. This Proverb is first and foremost about God before it is about whatever situation people find themselves in where this verse gets thrown out to try and justify something that was probably wrong.
The main takeaway from this first should be that our God is a God who believes that the rhythm of this world is such that love is capable of covering all wrongs (I do find it interesting the word here is “cover”, and not “make right” or “justify”). This verse points toward God himself doing this in Christ, where the ultimate covering of our sins was done by the greatest act of love.
Okay, now for some more “pastoral” words. Often times when I’ve heard this verse mentioned by people in the church, it has been thrown out by someone in a disagreement trying to convince the other person that a wrong that’s been done shouldn’t still be talked about, worked through, or “held against them” or something. After all, “love covers all wrongs”, right? And so, if love was covering this wrong, why should you still be talking about it?
But if the ultimate fulfillment/application of this verse is found in Christ, then we see how nuanced this verse should be applied in our life. We see that…
- this principle of “love covering all sins” includes messiness, justice, wrath, pain, suffering, and actual wrongs being actually dealt with.
- the process isn’t done until the wrong is fully covered.
- it’s a process and not just a moment.
- it takes sacrifice and pain on the part of both parties.
- this covering, though “legally” or “technically” having been accomplished takes an entire lifetime sometimes to fully apply and work itself in out in this relationship.
And so, there should be patience on both sides as this fully accomplished “covering” takes its time to work itself out in our relationship. We shouldn’t rush the process or rush the other person. The process is part of the point.
Okay, those are my thoughts. What are yours?